In case you haven’t heard, the fashion industry is among the most highly polluting on the planet, and more than 15 million tons of textile waste is generated each year in the US. Whether you like it or not, your workwear has its part to play that figure, however much your highly necessary equipment has nothing to do with fast fashion or the latest catwalk trends.
High visibility clothing is a case in point. It might have had a few moments in the limelight in Paris, Milan, and London, but for the workers of the world, it’s part of a professional wardrobe that provides safety and comfort while on site. It also needs to be regularly replaced when it is old, worn out, no longer waterproof or no longer “hi-vis”. This is very important for compliance on site, and replacing safety equipment is a necessary part of meeting strict H&S regulations.
However, the good news is, there’s always a chance to claw back some of that waste by repurposing or recycling old garments. There’s many of ways to use old or damaged PPE and hi-vis clothing, some practical for work and others that are a little more creative. Here then, we look at a few ways to recycle your workwear and save it from going to landfill.
If you’ve got old hi-vis clothing that you want to upcycle into something else, then taking stock of everything you use while on site is a great way to go. Perhaps you have an old toolbox that has become camouflaged with years of dirt, or maybe your grey thermos keeps getting knocked off the table by unsuspecting workers. Well, stick a bit of reflective, fluorescent fabric on them and your equipment will be highly visible at all times.
Old hi-vis workwear can be recycled by cutting fabric into strips and then gluing it onto equipment. You can even make hi-vis bags, backpacks, or other carrying equipment to keep your stuff safe while on the move. The bonus is, you’re never likely to lose it or confuse your gear with someone else’s.
If part of your hi-vis jacket is torn, or that old vest is completely threadbare at the sides, but the rest is still bright and shiny, then you can repurpose your PPE into other items of safety gear. Particularly useful for cyclists or motorcyclists, making hi-vis arm or leg bands can provide extra safety while on the move. Additionally, certain garments that are no longer suitable while on site can simply be used to provide increased visibility for riders.
Finally, some dog owners have taken to recycling workwear into hi-vis dog jackets to ensure their faithful companions are visible on even the darkest winter days. This is a great way to use PPE that’s no longer compliant but still retains much of its reflective coloring.
Donate or Recycle
Among the problems with hi-vis PPE is the fact that it is made from materials that are very difficult to recycle. However, donating old hi-vis workwear is an excellent alternative, and even when it is no longer fit for site, there are plenty of people out there who could still make use of it in situations where compliance is not an issue.
Additionally, certain companies are now making hi-vis wear out of old hi-vis garments by shredding old gear and repurposing the materials. This is the perfect way to give your old PPE a new lease on life, and it is hoped that more manufacturers will look into recycling old hi-vis equipment in the future.
Check out the All Seasons Uniforms catalogue for premium quality hi-vis wear whenever you need to replace your old gear. We have everything you need to stay safe while on site, alongside a broad range of other workwear essentials suitable for any profession.